Santa Claus is coming to town this weekend — on a very tight schedule of course — courtesy of your neighborhood police and fire departments.

Plainsboro

On Friday and Saturday, December 19 and 20, the Plainsboro Police Department’s Community Policing Unit and members of the Plainsboro Volunteer Fire Company will be escorting everyone’s favorite “jolly ol’ elf” to 24 stops around town as part of Santa Ride 2003.

Meanwhile, the West Windsor Volunteer Fire Company will once again conduct its Operation Santa Claus, driving Santa throughout the township during the entire weekend.

In Plainsboro this year’s trip will be different than in the past, according to Police Captain Timothy Matheny. The officers will escort Santa, driven on a fire truck by members of the fire company, based on a tight time schedule that is only partly due to the massive workload in Santa’s workshop.

“For a number of years, when we’ve gone out with Santa and the fire department we tried to go down every road in the township,” Matheny explains. “But it’s gotten to the point where there are so many roads and streets in the developments that it’s hard to go to all of them. If we miss a particular street then we get phone calls from people who are disappointed. So we decided we would go to a specific area in each neighborhood where people can go to see Santa and know the approximate time he’ll be there.”

“This project requires more than two days to do now, and with the new format we can help Santa visit each neighborhood in a timely fashion. To accomplish this, we will be on a strict schedule,” says Sergeant Chris Weidman of the Community Policing Unit.

Santa will be limited to five-minute visit at each stop in order to keep on schedule, says Weidman. Signs will be posted at each Santa Stop area.

Although the Santa Ride isn’t listed on the official list of the police department’s responsibilities, Matheny believes it’s good for the officers to be involved in community-friendly activities. “As workers here, we are a part of the community,” Matheny says. “To be out and doing things in the community shouldn’t be unusual. Police officers are good role models for children, and I hope it creates a positive mindset for what policemen do. We don’t just want to come out when things are bad.”

“We’re just hoping that we have good weather,” he adds. “It’s nice that we can help Santa, and also hopefully create some very good memories for kids growing up in Plainsboro.”

The following is the schedule for Santa stops:

Friday, December 19:

Princeton Crossing, 76 Marion Drive, 5:10 p.m.; Wyndhurst Drive, Community Meeting Center, 5:20 p.m.; Hunters Glen Drive, Building 4300, 5:35 p.m.; Tamarron Drive, Building 8000 parking lot, 5:45 p.m.; Hampshire Drive, lot 39-51 by Tot lot, 6 p.m.; Ravens Crest Drive, lot 1100 by volleyball court, 6:10 p.m.; Ravens Crest Drive, lot 39, 6:20 p.m.; Gentry, Franklin Dive at pool lot, 6:35 p.m.; Gentry, Madison Drive at Adams Court, 6:50 p.m.

Also Quail Ridge Drive, Lot 2000 at Management Office, 7:10 p.m.; Quail Ridge Drive, Lot 4300, 7:25 p.m.; Brookside Court, 9 Brookside Court, 7:40 p.m.; Brentwood Drive, Brentwood at Poplar Drive, 8:00 p.m.; Princeton Manor, Kinglet Drive South at Falcon Court, 8:15 p.m.; and Pheasant Hollow, Building 20 by pool, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 20:

Princeton Collection, Parker Road at Dennison Place, 3:45 p.m.; Princeton Collection, Silvers Lane at Major Lane, 4 p.m.; Princeton Landing, 400 Sayre Drive, 4:30 p.m.; Walker Gordon Farm, Birch Drive at Meadow Court, 4:50 p.m.; Walker Gordon Farm, Walker Gordon Drive at Clubhouse, 5:10 p.m.; Country Village, Reudemann Drive at Knight Drive, 5:30 p.m.; Country Village, Linden Lane at Wethersfield Drive, 5:45 p.m.; Stults Drive, Stults Drive at Cooks Corner Drive, 6 p.m.

Also Grovers Mill Estates, Harvest Drive at Colonial Drive, 6:15 p.m.; Grovers Mill Estates, Alfalfa Circle at King Haven, 6:30 p.m.; Grovers Mill Estates, Derry Meeting at Windmill Court, 6:40 p.m.; Millstone Court, Millstone Court at Nostrand Road, 6:55 p.m.; Beechtree Estates, Beechtree Lane at Red Oak Drive, 7:10 p.m.; Brittany, Thoreau Drive opposite #71, 7:30 p.m.; Ashford, Ashford Drive at pool, 7:45 p.m.; Aspen, Aspen Drive at Building 24, 8 p.m.; Deer Creek, Deer Creek Drive at tennis court, 8:20 p.m.; Fox Run, Fox Run Drive at tennis court, 8:40 p.m.

In case of bad weather, Santa’s ride will take place on Sunday, December 21. For information, go to www.plainsborofire.com.

West Windsor

When you hear the sirens anytime during Friday to Sunday, December 19 to 21, come out and meet Santa and the fire department volunteers. The West Windsor Fire Company will be escorting Santa to neighborhoods throughout the township during the weekend, presenting holiday music and candy canes.

“We’re all one group; it’s like a family,” says one of the volunteers, Mike Leahy. “From bankers to computer technology people, from all walks of life. It’s fun to get together when it’s not a fire.” But, assures Leahy, safety will not be compromised: “We’ve actually responded to fires with Santa on the truck,” he says.

For information about Operation Santa Claus, the fire company, or to volunteer, call 609-716-8588.